Still not prepared to join the Little Englanders

Well no readers of this blog site will be surprised at that heading of course.

I’ve pretty much always looked upon myself as being a European and am not for changing that view. I’m probably a tad more EUish than Jim Hancock but his latest blog posting on the matter is pretty much blob on for me. Go on have a read of it via the link below:-

jimhancock.co.uk/hancocks-half-page/

One thing that has long concerned me is the links between Trumpism and Brexit and how the major payers in both have openly interacted in their joint promotion of their own forms of anarchy. Johnson was putting Trump up for a Nobel Peace Prize not long ago, Farage saw himself as Trump’s ally and of course Trump was a big Brexit backer. But behind these bizarre leading characters there were others who worked for or advised both campaigns.

Brexiteers and Trumpians are cut from the same cloth

Both Trumpism and Brexit have been very successful attempts to tap into the anger of those who feel that US and UK societies have left them behind. At the same time these political campaigns have exploited the very same people in a process which certainly in Brexit terms has always been aimed at making the rich richer and poor poorer. That you can manipulate voters to become enthusiastic backers of a process from which they can only be the losers is remarkable but it has simply been built upon what the right wing press have been peddling for many years. Setting the EU up to be blamed for all the UK’s ills enabled the establishment, the wealthy and those in power to always have a believable scape goat which many voters were willing to accept as being ‘their’ problem.

But hey I lost I must ‘suck it up’ so Brexiteers tell me as they celebrate all their winnings. Except that, of course, there are no winnings as there was never going to be!

But more than anything what Brexit has shown in spades is that our political system is very much not fit for purpose. A Tory Party taken over by UKIP, a Labour Party riven with splits and unable/unwilling to act as an Official Opposition, a Lib Dem Party which failed to get its message across, an electoral system which virtually always delivers governments (and Conservative ones at that) with less than 50% elector backing.

We are still in the mire, despite leaving the EU, as our political system will always prioritise those on middle incomes and the wealthy at the expense of the poor. The poor/poorly educated will continue to be exploited and be left behind despite ‘levelling up’ rhetoric and our right wing press will continue to feed them fake stories about who to blame. Leaving the EU has lanced no boil at all, it has just confirmed that fake news is a very powerful tool in the hands of unscrupulous politicians.

Propaganda, Conspiracy & Cock Ups

Our Health Crisis – My Perspective

When Government first started using wartime phraseology at the start of our present lock down my thoughts went straight away to propaganda. What will be true amongst what we hear from now on I pondered and what will be that which political leaders want us to hear/believe?

Yes of course we are always subject to propaganda it’s what politicians of all colours and indeed many journalists/newspapers/media outlets do day in day out when things are ‘normal’. However, in times of ‘war’ this gets ramped up and governments sometimes with collaborating media outlets produce agendas which are very much associated with what they want us believe. In other words they push the boundaries of what is acceptable deceit (is it ever acceptable?) much further. So to a free thinking mind, amongst all that we are been told, is what is truth and what is fiction?

Another word for our times is conspiracy. If you use social media you may well realise that folks invent utter rubbish and present it as fact for criminal purposes, to mislead, to give false hope or for other reasons. Conspiracy theories are rife about the origins of the virus, who can get it, what quack medicine protects us from it etc. etc. What’s more these conspiracy theories can sometimes look plausible at face value and we are urged to pass then on. Any tweet or facebook message which urges us to pass it on to our followers, friends and family should ring loud alarm bells but if we have found the message comforting or it fits with our own misinformed prejudices we can easily be hoodwinked into doing what we are asked rather than what we should be doing – deleting.

And what about cock-ups? Government has probably made many right from the start of the emergence of the virus either through lack of information, misinterpretation of data, ignoring data/facts, bad advice etc. etc. When this terrible period in world history is over and the actions of governments are assessed those which got things right and those who got it wrong will probably be exposed. The consequences of this could be dramatic and governments could fall if voters find out they were lied to on an industrial scale, were subject to unacceptable levels of propaganda and/or incompetent leaders.

But who amongst world leaders looks like they are making the least missteps? Trump is now little more than cringe worthy. Merkel, as always, looks calm cool and collected. The New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern is, as usual, a delight to listen to and like Merkel is seeming significantly trusted. On our own doorstep Rishi Sunak has come across well as for me did George Eustas on his one appearance in front of the cameras. Priti Patel, Dominic Raab and Matt Hancock look to be well out of their depth.

Government here looks far from confident or indeed competent. Even before the PM became ill he came over as someone well out of his comfort zone who was struggling with a situation he was not prepared for. As a populist politician, in some ways like to Trump, he seemed poor on detail. I wonder how he will emerge from his serious health scare and whether it will have changed him?

But my other great concern is about our journalists as few of them seem willing/capable of holding government seriously to account in our crisis. Far too many vague answers from Ministers are let go, far too many questions to Ministers are too rambling and imprecise. In short, to my mind, many journalists are simply not doing their job of cutting through the propaganda, exposing the cock-ups and most of all making our leaders feel the heat. As for all the adulation of Johnson by the media due to his unfortunate and obviously serious illness this has been very much over emphasised. And I say that not because the health of our PM is unimportant but because he is only one of many thousands of seriously ill and sadly dying people in the UK. Continually focusing on Johnson’s health has been lazy populist journalism which has been very useful cover for a weak government.

Funnily enough this crisis, falling as it has just after Brexit, could probably not have come at a worse time for the UK. A Government elected to deliver a fantasy anti-EU/little Englander world against an opposition which had thrown in the towel years ago has saddled us with many 2nd division politicians in high office. Our troubles now are built on the fact that we have few credible leaders in government or indeed in opposition as they were purged by our two main political parties as a consequence of Brexit.

The good news is what is happening despite government as many folk in communities across the land are rising to the challenge of our unprecedented health crisis to help those in need. There is indeed hope out there but little of it is coming from the UK’s political leaders………..

Trump and the NFL – This is a really interesting insight

www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-41392959

The BBC has the story on its web site – see link above

Trump often seems to be on missions that few can get their heads around and yes, I know, we have some pretty strange politicians of the far right over here too.

What I like about this insight is that it probably hits the spot in that Trump may well be someone who simply hits out at whatever is irritating him at any particular moment. It’s also the case that folks are probably learning how to push his buttons. So when he berates the NFL footballers for kneeling when the US national anthem is being played you can bet those who dislike his ‘orders’ will start to press his buttons and good on them too.

Heed the words of a wise elderly man – Harry Leslie Smith

www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/aug/14/1939-second-world-war-fascist-thundering-approach-hitler

The Guardian has this opinion piece on its web site – see link above

Some 20 odd years ago I was given the privilege of getting to know a chap who was involved in the Second World War. Our close friendship sadly ended earlier this year when he died (well into his 90’s) but I like to think that I learned a great deal from listening to Charles (Uncle Albert) Walker about his wartime RAF experiences.

The piece above by Harry Leslie Smith deserves a wide audience because he can see what many of us may be ignoring i.e. that international leaders like Trump and Kim Jong-un (and others) may well be pushing us all towards another war.

My thanks to Roy Connell for the lead to this posting.

The great British Brexit robbery: how our democracy was hijacked – The Observer

www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/may/07/the-great-british-brexit-robbery-hijacked-democracy

The observer has the story on its web site – see link above

‘A shadowy global operation involving big data, billionaire friends of Trump and the disparate forces of the Leave campaign influenced the result of the EU referendum. As Britain heads to the polls again, is our electoral process still fit for purpose?’

Read this and worry because there’s one hell of a lot to be worried about!

We have been manipulated by the printed media for generations but this new form of manipulation is far more dangerous and it is eating away at our very democratic structures and processes.

With thanks to both John and Tony for bring this to my attention

Tribalism – I’m in the tribe so everything the tribal leaders do is OK by me

Politics is full of tribalism and the Labour Party wears its tribal loyalty like a badge of pride as an obvious example. I don’t think I will ever forget MP Andy Burnham making it clear that his party came first in a Labour Leadership hustings interview, only to be shouted down by one of his own (MP Liz Kendal) saying ‘Country first’.

But here in the UK we have always had a sneaking admiration for those who at face value are a part of tribe but who are actually mavericks with a mind of their own. MP Ken Clarke is an obvious non-tribal Tory who will kick out when he thinks his party is in the wrong. Of course Jeremy Corbyn MP made a name for himself by not supporting the Labour Leader of the day when he was a back bencher. It’s ironic that he’s now whipped Labour Remain MP’s to vote for Brexit and that the vast majority of them actually followed him down a Brexit road they do not believe in! That’s taking tribal loyalty far to far in my book.

As a Liberal I take the view that if my Lib Dem party tries to push me a certain way then by instinct my reaction can easily be to refuse. Liberals are by their very nature very hard to whip as they are free thinking individuals who coalesce around a common broad agenda.

But with the advent of Trump and his supporters we start to see a whole new and hugely troubling tribalistic agenda that his supports are fully signed up to. They don’t check whether what he says is right or wrong, they simply back it. They don’t actually care if it is right or wrong/truth or lie, if he says something/anything they want to hear. They will seemingly follow him anywhere he goes like the unthinking have followed despots across the world before. This is of course the road to fascism!

We all like to belong to groups that think like us but we do ourselves a great disservice by blindly following the crowd or the tribe and we believe/support everything our chosen or given leaders tell us.

You can’t be a a Liberal without questioning most things you come across, its a burden at times when siting back and repeating the propaganda of a leader is a lot easier.

Just look at this way who does trump rant against? The media, immigrants, Muslims, Mexicans etc. Who does he put in power? The powerful, the wealthy. people who disrespect our world environment, people who think like him.

Any leader who surrounds themselves with too many like thinking people is facing trouble as leaders need to be challenged by advisors not told they are wonderful.

As for Trump’s attacks on the media, yes of course some media outlets are utterly irresponsible. We saw it in the UK over Brexit – There was nothing some media outlets would not stop at to fuel prejudices that they had implanted in the minds of their readers over generations even though their ‘truth’ was obviously lies to anyone who looked behind the ranting headlines. BUT we are supposed to live in a free society with a free press. That means that the press can say things that are not true but they can be challenged by those who know the truth is being distorted. Trump only wants his ‘truth’ to be heard/printed not the ‘truth’ and that’s another step towards fascism.

Give tribalism the boot, it leads to despotism and fascism.